The Dallas Mavericks (25-30) have their backs firmly against the wall as they host the Milwaukee Bucks (26-28). The loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday didn’t break the back of the Mavericks but it definitely set them behind in a big way. My calculations had the Mavericks having a seven percent chance of making the playoffs before the game against the Lakers. The loss to Los Angeles dropped their percentages down to four percent. The door is starting to close on the Mavericks’ chances to extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances.
Dirk Nowitzki will definitely do whatever he can to help the team. Over his last five games, Dirk is averaging 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and shooting 54.2 percent from the field and is 10-of-14 from 3-point range. It will be interesting to see how Dirk responds from his best game of the year against the Lakers. Milwaukee will always be linked to Dirk and the Mavericks. If you don’t know why, you’ll find out shortly.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Bucks.
Dallas has taken eight of the last 12 meetings with Milwaukee. The Mavericks and the Bucks met just once last season (at Dallas on Jan. 13, 2012) and the Mavericks won by 26 (102-76). It was Dallas’ largest margin of victory in any game against Milwaukee. Vince Carter (16), Dirk Nowitzki (11) and Shawn Marion (10) scored in double figures for Dallas, while Jason Terry (17) and Rodrigue Beaubois (15) combined for 32 points off the bench. The Mavericks have now won 8-of-9 and 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Bucks in Dallas.
Milwaukee defeated Dallas both times in 2010-11, sweeping the Mavericks in the regular season for the first time since 2002-03. The Bucks snapped the Mavericks’ season-high 12-game winning streak (Dallas’ high win streak for the 2010-11 season) with a 103-99 victory in Dallas on Dec. 13, 2010. Nowitzki recorded his first career triple-double against Milwaukee on Feb. 6, 2008 when he totaled 29 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
It’s a Small World:
Dirk Nowitzki was originally drafted by Milwaukee in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the 1998 NBA Draft, before having his draft rights traded to Dallas (along with the draft rights to Pat Garrity) in exchange for the draft rights to Robert Traylor.
Jae Crowder played his final two years of college ball (2010-12) at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Todd Mayo, the younger brother of Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo, currently plays guard for the Golden Eagles. Crowder and Todd Mayo were teammates at Marquette during the 2011-12 season. Darren Collison and Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute were college teammates at UCLA from 2005-08 and reached the Final Four together all three years.
Marquis Daniels played for Dallas from 2003-06 and was a member of the Mavericks’ 2006 Western Conference Championship Team. Drew Gooden played for the Mavericks during the 2009-10 season. Vince Carter was a teammate of Bucks guard J.J. Redick on the Orlando Magic in 2009-10 and for part of the 2010-11 season. Bucks big man Gustavo Ayón played his rookie season (2011-12) with Mavericks center Chris Kaman in New Orleans. Bucks guard Monta Ellis was a teammate of Mavericks big man Brandan Wright on the Golden State Warriors for three-and-a-half seasons from 2007-11. Bucks forward Ekpe Udoh was also a teammate of Wright’s on the Warriors for the first half of the 2010-11 season. Mavericks guard Anthony Morrow played two seasons with Ellis on the Warriors from 2008-10.
Mavericks assistant coach Tony Brown got his start in the NBA as an advance scout in Milwaukee from 1994-97. Brown was an assistant coach with the Bucks in 2007-08. Mavericks Strength and Conditioning Coach Robert Hackett is from Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin.
1. Don’t be a deer in headlights with Brandon Jennings. Jennings has already recorded eight 30-point games this season, matching the most he’s had in a season in his career (eight in 2011-12). In addition, he is averaging 7.0 assists over last eight games. He, along with Monta Ellis, is electric in the pick-and-roll game, so the Mavericks will need to have their defensive coverages ready to go up against Jennings and Co.
2. Have coffee because coffee is for closers. The Bucks have now lost three consecutive games by three points or fewer. It’s only the third time in franchise history the Bucks have played three consecutive games decided by a single possession and lost all three. On each of the previous two occasions, the Bucks won their next game. Closing games has been an issue for Dallas this season, to say the least. If this game comes down to the wire, it’s going to be very telling for the Mavericks if they’re unable to seal the deal.
3. Get this game. It’s absolutely a must-win game for the Mavericks, obviously. The schedule dictates that this game is their easiest game. Dallas’ next two opponents, Memphis and Brooklyn, will have had two days off as they prepare for their game against Dallas. The schedule can be a cruel thing and this will be a stretch where the odds are stacked against the Mavericks. Dallas is already behind the 8-ball so a loss to Milwaukee could force people to grab the hammer and nails for the coffin.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.